Have you ever scrolled through Instagram, eyes glazed with envy, passing judgement on the curation of someone’s personal aesthetic? Kerith Lemon’s short film A Social Life provides an inside glimpse into the life of Meredith, a young professional. We see her at her at eerily vulnerable moments: checking her Instagram feed, ordering take-out, drinking wine alone. The exceptional cinematography pans in, displaying the crisp clean images Meredith posts on social media. Lemon’s directional choices open a dialogue on our curation of our image or brand and how it impacts our own self perception. Speaking with Lemon about the film produced an engaging discourse on the role social media plays in our lives.
How do you think social media as a whole has impacted society?
This film is a mirror of what I know that I look like and what is happening to me emotionally by being connected 24/7, I know that others are feeling this way as well. There are new mental health conditions, like “social media depression” and “Instagram envy,” there are devastated social stars quitting their most popular platforms (think Essena O’Neill) and most recently, Nancy Jo Sales’ book, American Girls, shined a light on the pressures that social media is increasingly putting on teen girls. In the end, the conversation hit me hardest and made me realize what a true impact it’s had on our society was when I read that many of the teens interviewed (in American Girls) shared a theme: “social media is ruining our lives, but we can’t go off because then we’d have no life.”
That, right there — the idea that if you’re not online, and you don’t have profiles on social media then you don’t exist — is very real to all of us, not just teens.
Was there a distinct decision in making the protagonist female?
The decision was deliberate to make the protagonist female in A Social Life. Over 70% of the United States uses social media, but it’s women that lead the way. We love to share personal stories and we love the connectivity with a wider friend base, but at the same time I feel that women are judged by what they share in a way that men are not, which, I believe leads us to think far more about what we’re putting out there and how it will be perceived. The character, Meredith, is someone that is close to my heart. She works and plays hard and, like many of us, she feels the pressure to keep up her personal “brand.” I wanted to take a closer look at this; an exploration of the current social media culture, how we frame our social lives, and how we allow the perceptions — and approval—of others to define us.
What is the desired effect of the juxtaposition of the monotony of everyday life and the images used to capture their details?
I wanted to highlight how powerful a single visual can be by selecting mundane daily details for her to photograph throughout the film. It’s important to realize when you’re looking at a string of out of context images it’s easy to perceive them in a completely different way than originally intended. It is for this reason that I chose the images I did, her daily life and especially the careful wording of her captions. By limiting the information in each post it leaves a lot of room for interpretation and it’s easy to make your life look really great when in fact it may not be.
The overall film reads as a critique of the banality of existence and our perception of that reality, would you say this is accurate?
Meredith is a mere mortal playing online amongst the social media stars. Technology has made celebrities just like us and even made some of our friends stars. At the end of the day, we all want to be seen and validated, social media gives us a platform that allows us to connect with more people than ever before, but it also quantifies that validation. Posting our most banal moments gives us the fleeting feeling that we’re doing something important— that we all matter. Now, if only 11 people would like my coffee pic on Insta I would be sure that I do too.
Image From 'A Social Life'
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multi-media artist, writer, ~free spirit~, sp00ky brat